KOTA KINABALU: A proposal by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to appoint senior lawyer Tommy Thomas as the new Attorney General has sparked a major disagreement with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King).
Sabah PAS Legal Head Unit, Hamid Ismail, in a statement said that various arguments have been raised to support Tun Mahathir and they are essential two-fold.
First, King is bound to act on the PM’s advice on appointment of AG based on Article 145 of the Federal Constitution and second, PM’s advice is correct because Tommy Thomas is eligible for that post due to his immense legal knowledge and reputation.
“I do not wish to state on the arguments raised by parties supporting the Yang di-Pertuan’s action. I think the majority of the public know them.
“I understand very well that by virtue of Articles 40(1) and (1A) of the Federal Constitution, essentially, in the exercise of his functions under the Constitution or federal law, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or of a Minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet.
“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may only act in his discretion on limited matters as prescribed in Article 40(2) of the Federal Constitution.
“The point that I want to raise here is this… Doesn’t the Yang di-Pertuan Agong have the right to express his opinion on the appointment of AG? If all citizens have the freedom of speech and expression by virtue of Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution, why can’t the Yang di-Pertuan Agong express his opinion on important matter such as the appointment of AG? More so, His Majesty is the Supreme Head of the Federation (Article 32(1) of the Federal Constitution)! His view should be appreciated most,” he said.
Hamid also added that expressing an opinion is not an exercise of function.
“In the street, we call it “Please hear me”. In court, we call it “Right to be heard”. Now, when the Supreme Head of the Federation gives his view on the appointment of AG, can’t he be heard? Can’t he say at least something about it before he acts on Prime Minister’s advice?
“To say that constitutionally the Yang di-Pertuan Agong cannot express his view as there is no provision in the constitution allowing it, I personally think is inaccurate,” he said.
Hamid pointed out that Tun Mahathir should at least listen to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s view. And since the Malay Rulers will convene on June 5, 2018 to discuss and resolve the impasse over the appointment of a new AG, it is wise for Tun Mahathir to hear their views too.
“I also humbly advise Tun Mahathir to seek the AG’s Chambers’ advice on candidates suitable for the appointment of AG. They are also currently Judicial Commissioners and High Court judges that are eligible to fill that post.
“By considering advices from many relevant parties and widening his options, I believe Tun Mahathir can avoid the impression that he is only putting “his men” up there,” he said.-By Evachel J John/BNN